Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Phoenix Suns Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Cleveland Cavaliers (20-8 13-15 ATS) vs. Phoenix Suns (18-9 15-11-1) US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ 9 PM EST Monday December 21, 2009 on NBA TV
by Jason Green at

Point Spread: Cavs +2 / Suns -2
Over/Under: 209.5

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Tonight in the Valley of the Sun the Phoenix Suns host the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs are coming off a loss and the Suns are coming off a win, but the Cavs are playing well at 7-3 in their last 10 games while the Suns are struggling only going 4-6 in their last 10 games. The Cavs have comfortable 7.5 game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks in the Central Division while the Suns are in 2nd place in the Pacific Division 4.5 games back of the scorching Lakers.

The Cavs are in 1st place in their division, but last time this year they were 28-4 and were beating opponents by an average of 13 ppg and this year are only beating opponents by an average of 5 ppg. Shaq makes his return to the desert tonight after playing in Phoenix for a season and a half. The Diesel is not dominating like in years’ past this season averaging career lows in points (10 ppg), rebounds (7 rpg), and FG% (50%). Without Shaq the Suns are back to being a run and gun team and they are the highest scoring team in the league.

This season the Suns have yet to lose at home (10-0) and the Cavs are 9-6 on the road.

These two teams played in Cleveland earlier this month and the Cavs slowed down the Suns, big time, and beat them 107-90.

The Cavs lost yesterday to the Dallas Mavericks 102-95. The high scorer for the Cavs was LeBron James going for 25 points on 9/23 shooting. For the game the Cavs shot 35/77 for a FG% of 45.5%. On defense the Cavs allowed the Mavericks to shoot 38/80 from the floor for a FG% of 47.5%.

In their last game the Suns ran past the Washington Wizards 121-95 on Friday night. The high scorer for the Suns in that game was Amare Stoudemire going for 23 points on 9/17 shooting and he also grabbed 14 boards. For the game the Suns shot a legit FG% of 51.6% on 48/93 shooting. The Suns actually played some defense in the game holding the Wizards to 32/88 from the floor for a FG% of 36.4%.

This season the Suns have the highest scoring team in the NBA (108.9 ppg) and the Cavs rank 16th (99.3 ppg). On defense it is a different matter, as the Cavs rank 4th in points allowed (94.3 ppg) and the Suns only rank 28th (105.1 ppg). The Cavs are a better team on the glass having a rebounding differential of +2.3 rpg while the Suns are in the negative at -1.2 rpg.

The Cavs won the meeting in Cleveland because they slowed down Steve Nash and the Suns, but don’t look for that to happen in this game, as the Suns are always a better team at home and they will play their game tonight.

Nash (18.1 ppg 11.1 assists per game) will lead the up-tempo offense and he will have a good game dishing out the rock.

In the half court set Cleveland will get a good game from Shaq, as he will be matched up with Suns C Channing Frye, who gives up a couple inches and over 75 pounds to the Diesel.

Look for Amare Stoudemire (20 ppg 8.3 rpg) to have a big game, as even though Shaq will be in the middle Stoudemire is much more athletic and he will find a way to get to the hoop, especially on the fast break.

Jason Richardson (16 ppg) will have a good scoring game with Nash opening up the floor on the break.

The Suns have won 19 in a row at home and their last loss was to the Cavaliers.

On the injury front SG Leandro Barbosa is Out and SG Jason Richardson and C Louis Amundson are day-to-day for the Suns while the Cavs are not reporting any significant injuries.

Jason’s Pick: The Suns will run tonight and that will be the difference in the game. I think LeBron will have a big game, but Shaq and the Cavs will be run ragged and will not sweep the season series, as they will lose tonight and the Suns will cover the 2-point spread.